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Do You Have A Sleep Disorder?
06/02/2005

Do you have difficulty falling asleep? Do you wake up tired even though you had eight hours of sleep? Do you snore? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a sleep disorder.

Forty million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, these disorders and the resulting sleep deprivation interfere with work, driving, social activities and account for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs each year.

There are more than 70 different sleep disorders and most of them can be managed effectively once correctly diagnosed by a physician. The most common sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia – chronic sleeplessness.
  • Sleep apnea – an interruption in breathing during sleep which is linked to obesity and decreased muscle tone due to aging. The condition usually causes loud snoring.
  • Restless legs syndrome or RLS – a hereditary disorder that causes unpleasant crawling, prickling, or tingling sensations in the legs and feet. Sufferers have an urge to move their feet for relief. RLS is most common with the elderly, but in some cases has been linked to conditions such as pregnancy, anemia and diabetes.
  • Narcolepsy – a condition that causes sleep attacks at various times of the day, even if you’ve gotten a normal amount of sleep.

Sleep deprivation leads to impaired memory and physical performance. If you think you have a sleep disorder talk to your physician.

If you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, your physician will probably recommend a sleep evaluation or a polysomnogram – a test that records your physical state during various stages of sleep and wakefulness. The polysomnogram provides data that helps evaluate general sleep behavior.

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